United Kingdom

Labour peer Baroness Helena Kennedy 'asked Julian Assange's alleged victims to drop rape charges' 

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a human rights lawyer, made the suggestion in an email sent at the height of Assange’s battle against extradition to Sweden in July 2011

A Labour peer proposed that an impasse between Julian Assange and his alleged rape victims could be broken if they dropped their allegations and if the WikiLeaks founder stated publicly that his accusers were not CIA agents.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a human rights lawyer, made the suggestion in an email sent at the height of Assange’s battle against extradition to Sweden in July 2011.

Writing to Thomas Hammarberg, the then Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, she said: ‘I had envisaged you bringing a meeting together in Sweden... and both sides seeking a solution that was mutually satisfactory with Assange making clear his contrition and publicly asserting that the women were not setting him up or part of any CIA conspiracy.

‘I know that the [Swedish] Prosecution could then still seek to continue but it would be unlikely if the women said they felt honour was satisfied by a full apology and clearing of their reputations.’

Mr Hammarberg forwarded the email to the lawyer representing the alleged victims who have told a Swedish TV documentary they felt insulted. ‘Helena Kennedy talked about restoring my honour, but if I retract my accusations, what would that make me?’ asks Anna Ardin, who has since become a vicar.

Assange visited Stockholm in 2010 and stayed at the homes of WikiLeaks supporters, including Miss Ardin. A photograph obtained by the documentary, to be shown in Sweden tomorrow, shows him asleep in her apartment.

Assange, who denies raping either woman, fled to Britain and sought asylum in the Ecuador embassy in London where he lived until 2019.

He is now in Belmarsh prison in London while the US government appeals a High Court decision to block his extradition to face espionage charges.

Baroness Kennedy – not part of Assange’s legal team when she sent the email – said she had wanted ‘to explore whether a statement from Assange could be worked out. I thought he would accept he was wrong to allege they had invented their claims at the behest of the CIA or any agency... to help in finding a resolution. The women have undoubtedly suffered greatly as a result of their interactions with Assange.’

Assange, who denies raping either woman, fled to Britain and sought asylum in the Ecuador embassy in London where he lived until 2019

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